Jordan Sweeney from The Langham in London has been crowned the winner of the Hayman’s Gin inaugural True Taste Competition, launched in partnership with Barlife UK.
New for 2018, the competition set out to seek the best of the UK’s on-trade bartending talent and culminated in a tightly-fought final at Hayman’s South London distillery on Tuesday 24 July.
Jordan’s showstopper signature serve ‘Please Keep off the Grass’ impressed the judges with its combination of dedicated research, technical skill, balanced flavours and unique presentation.
Having been selected from six regional heats, the final competitors were Ryan Mackie, Dan Smithson, Max Hayward, Massimiliano Terrile, Mattia Lufrano and Jordan Sweeney.
The expert panel of judges comprised Tim Homewood, head of advocacy at Hayman’s Gin, Simon Webster from Barlife UK, and fifth-generation Miranda Hayman.
There were three separate challenges to the final, designed to test the bartenders’ knowledge of flavour combinations, presentation skills and understanding of Hayman’s True English Gin.
In the first challenge, ‘The True Taste’, competitors were asked to pick one ingredient from a list including apple and pickled onion and, using Hayman’s gin, create a cocktail that showcased and celebrated the true taste of that ingredient.
The second challenge was the ‘Botanical Blender’, where the competitors were asked to deconstruct a blended Gin and reconstruct it using individual botanical distillates, testing their understanding of how to use botanicals to create the classic balance for which Hayman’s range of True English Gins is known.
In the third and final round, the ‘Showstopper Signature Serve’ round, the competitors were asked to showcase Hayman’s London Dry Gin in an inspired serve.
Tim Homewood said: “This has been the first year of the Hayman’s True Taste competition and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it has gone.
“To receive well over 100 entries in the first year of a competition is fantastic – we’ve seen some excellent drinks and presentations from across the country.
“We are so excited to be able to present members of our trade with a chance to make their own signature True English Gin and we can’t wait to see where the competition goes from here.”
James Hayman added: “Tim has been incredibly impressed with the calibre of cocktails during the heats, and today we got to try some of them for ourselves.
“Thank you to everyone who entered, and to the finalists today – you’ve all done a fabulous job. I am in awe of the cocktails you have made – the thought and preparation that’s gone into them is outstanding. I didn’t envy the judges in having to choose a winner as the quality of all the cocktails was so high.”
Jordan Sweeney’s prize is a five-day distilling apprenticeship under the tutelage of fourth-generation master distiller Christopher Hayman, who has almost 50 years’ experience in the gin industry.
During this apprenticeship, Jordan will enjoy hands-on experience in the Home of English Gin, being involved in every element of the distilling process from testing botanicals in the lab, to loading and charging the stills, through to quality testing and bottling.
As the competition winner, Jordan will also work alongside the Hayman’s of London team to develop their own limited edition Hayman’s Gin, in the True English Gin style.